Songs and Solos – the next book
Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday. As promised, here is the first detailed information about my next songwriting book, to be be published by Backbeat in the summer.
Many songs have a moment when the spotlight shifts away from vocals and lyrics to an instrumental solo. Often this solo is played on guitar. Songs and Solos examines this neglected facet of songwriting. It is a unique manual of creativity for guitar-playing songwriters who want to make the best use of solos in their songs. For the songwriter who composes with a guitar, solos are a significant way a song can be intensified. Though lead guitar technique for its own sake is widely discussed, this book takes a new approach, focusing instead on the relationship of the solo to the song.
Songs and Solos has 12 sections. Section One relates a brief history of the solo in since the mid-1950s when the electric guitar changed the course of popular music. It narrates how, from the 1960s, the guitar became the most likely soloing instrument, and how lead guitarists became a potent musical and symbolic figures. Some of the roles and politics of the guitar solo are traced through musical genres popular in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, including how attitudes to solos changed. Section Two is a practical look at basic concepts of soloing, and Section Three looks at how a solo is positioned and integrated. For the songwriter this section discusses what a solo can do for a song and where it might be placed for maximum effect.
Section Four surveys the use of other instruments than guitar to add solos to songs. This is important knowledge for a songwriter, because a guitar solo might not always be best for a given song. These other instruments include acoustic and electric piano, synths, saxophone, piano, trumpet, flute, recorder, and strings. All have been featured during solo breaks in songs.
Section Five looks at the implications for soloing of choosing one type of guitar over another, including nylon ‘classical’, steel-string acoustic, and electric, six- and 12-string. It also covers the way various guitar techniques and effects influence a solo, including harmonics, wah-wah, feedback, sustain, echo, vibrato, tremolo, phasing and playing with the fingers rather than a pick. Section Six deals with the way scales and harmony relate. This has information about which scales are the most useful for solos and the chords they fit. Section Seven rounds up guitar techniques for soloing which are not based primarily on scales.
The next four sections illustrate this practical knowledge with short solos, designed to show a range of techniques, scales and chord types, so by the end of the book you’ll know which scales fit over the likeliest chords encountered in a song. These solos are given in standard notation, TAB, and on the CD. Each of the 42 audio tracks is repeated just as a backing track so you can use them to practise the example or improvise your own. Section Eight deals with scales and major key chord progressions, and Section Nine with minor key soloing. Section 10 looks at how to solo when a progression includes the common out-of-key chords used by songwriters – the ones labelled ‘reverse polarity’ and ‘flat degree’ chords in my other songwriting books. Section 11 discusses how to solo over more complex harmony, including common altered chords and unrelated chords. Section 12 has quotes about soloing from famous guitarists.
Songs and Solos cites solos in over 800 songs by more than 600 artists. Features in these solos are mentioned and described for comparison, but there are no transcriptions of these solos in this book. Songs and Solos is about creating and playing your own solos.
I hope this book will prove useful to everyone who has already bought my songwriting titles.